Where we live is quite close to the geographical centre of mainland France (l’hexagone), so not surprisingly the skies above us are quite busy with planes flying to or from faraway places – sometimes to quite dramatic effect:


Fortunately, they are at high altitude when they pass over, so we can’t hear them

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Faraway

Weekly Photo Challenge: Gathering

Daughter, son-in-law and grandsons are going to gather with us for Christmas, arriving on Tuesday. We think we’re ready for them…


Weekly Photo Challenge: Gathering

Before & After: Boat

My little exercise in post-processing this week was actually inspired by the December One Photo Focus, which was published last Friday. My own humble effort can be found here, but I was particularly interested by some of the other participants’ use of the more sophisticated and creative tools available in Photoshop. Apart from anything else, it made me more determined than ever to try to get to grips properly with this extraordinarily sophisticated (downright clever) program.

Original image


This photograph was taken at the famous lily pond in Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny, in Normandy. The day was very overcast and drizzly, so the light was very flat, the water looks very drab and even the reflections are rather dull. The whole thing obviously needs some work.



Some basic editing in Lightroom helped to cheer up the image. Cropping made the boat the centre of attention and some work with the sliders brought out more detail. Increasing the Green Saturation helped to overcome the overall flatness, and moving up the Clarity and Vibrance gave the image more punch. Without being anything special, it’s a lot better than it was.


Then it occurred to me that, since the picture was taken in a painter’s garden, why not make it look more like a painting? And since Monet was, of course, an Impressionist, why not try to give it something of an impressionist feel?

So I used the Paint Daub effect in Photoshop and came up with the image below. I could have made the effect more extreme, but – if I’m honest – chickened out. Anyway, it’s far removed from the original image and, I think, a lot more interesting.


AB Friday 18th December 2015

Thursday Doors: Close To Home

Last week’s door wasn’t very far from here, but today I’m even closer to home: about 30 feet from my back door.

Our house is actually two cottages knocked together (if you want to know a little more, you can read this) and forms one end of a larger bâtiment which includes two barns, one of which belongs to us and one to our neighbour, Albert (whose own house is just in front of ours). Needless to say, this being rural France, our barn is at the far end of the bâtiment, and it’s Albert’s that adjoins our house.

You get used to it.

Anyway, this picture is a detail of the very ancient side door to Albert’s barn. You can get some idea of its age from the grooves that have been worn in the wood from the swinging latch. I’m glad I took this when I did, because he’s only gone and painted it, hasn’t he?


Thursday Doors 17th December 2015


This week we focus on images that, with a healthy disregard for the rule of thirds, are intended to be placed in the middle of the frame: to be literally the centre of attention.

This image was taken looking down a corridor in the cellars of a wine-producing chateau in the Bordeaux region:


Flowers are a very obvious ‘centre-friendly’ subject – particularly when photographing buds, before the petals start to compete for space in the frame:

Also, of course, anything circular has an obvious central focus, be it wheels or even fireworks:

And finally this is just one of my most favourite images: it was taken looking directly upwards to the ceiling of the reception area of the Sir Bani Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Those lanterns are between six and eight feet high when you see them sideways on from the second floor.


Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge: Centred

Weekly Photo Challenge: Oops

This supermarket in Dubai probably ought to get a new advertising copywriter…


Weekly Photo Challenge: Oops

Before & After: Cradle

This photograph was taken in less than ideal conditions: in a local stately home during an Open Day, as I shuffled – along with many other people – past the open doorway of a nursery. With no time to frame a shot, or to do much more than simply record what was on view, it would obviously be necessary to make the best of whatever I was able to get at a later stage.

Original Image


Apart from the clutter, the key challenge was obviously to deal with the very strong backlight from the sun streaming through the uncurtained window.

Edited Version


The focal point is clearly the cradle, so the crop was pretty obvious. The lamp on the table gives a sense of scale and also balance and there wasn’t much that could be done about the window apart from cut out as much as possible.

The cradle is interesting in itself, not only for its antiquity but also the intricate metalwork and the delicate lace, the details of which are ‘blown out’ in the original by the sunlight. I offset this to the best of my ability by:

  • Taking down both ‘Highlights’ and ‘Whites’ to -100 brought much of this back
  • Boosting ‘Clarity’ to +55 brought back some more of the lost detail, while ramping up both ‘Vibrance’ and ‘Saturation’, gave a more solid feel to the bed-linen and the metalwork.
  • I boosted both the Saturation and Luminance of the individual Yellow slider, which also helped to offset the ‘blinding’ effect of the sunlight.

ABFriday Focus Week 70